A 17-year-old student in Sharjah figured out how to make his own version of the gadget that police use to measure the tint on car windows.
Bright idea for dark windows
SHARJAH // When Obaid al Mazam was pulled over in his BMW by the Dubai Police, they took a worrying interest in his tinted windows.
He had had them done just six weeks before at a garage in Sharjah. Thirty per cent tinting, he told them, no more - he was keen to stay within the legal limit. But the police were suspicious, testing his tints to make sure they complied.
Fortunately, they did. Had they not, his roadside stop would have been an expensive one. Motorists caught with overtinted windows - even if they thought they were within the limit - face fines of up to Dh10,000 and can have their vehicles impounded.
Still, the encounter set Mr al Mazam's 17-year-old brother, Fahad, thinking. What drivers needed, he figured, was a cheap way of being sure their tints were no darker than they should be. The police had such devices - why should drivers be any less equipped?
With a mission, the support of his teachers at the Sharjah Institute for Technology (SIT), and a little help from the internet, the electrical engineering student set out to make his own replica of the tint-measuring gadget used by police patrols.
"I really liked the device they used, I wanted to know how it works, and how I could make my own," he said.
"I went to my teacher and asked him about it, he explained a bit to me, and advised me to check online, so I did. Then I made my own one."
His device cost just Dh30 to make, hundreds of dirhams cheaper than the one police use.
"They usually cost around Dh400-Dh500 at the police station, but it didn't cost me anything. It was all from the institute and each piece was a dirham or half. Maybe all of it was around Dh30, if anything."
To make his own hand-held gadget he used a switchboard, an LED light, a buzzer, a resistor, a battery and a circuit board.
"The only different between my device and the police's is that theirs says the exact percentage of the tint, mine only buzzes if you exceed the 30 per cent tint accepted - or you can change it as you like to buzz at any degree. My next invention will be to make an exact replica."
He said he had experimented with his gadget to check the tints of friends' and teachers' cars in the SIT car park.
"I checked cars at the institute - they were all good, except one was more than 30 per cent.
"My device is good because locals get a lot of fines because of tints, but with this they can check at home.
"Some tints change in the sun, and some shops fix a darker tint than they say they would because of the different types of tints available, and no one checks after them."
Mahmoud Issa, fined in Al Ain for a heavy tint, is sure that sunlight changed his tint. "I was fined Dh500 and my car impounded for 30 days - it was 40 per cent," he said. "But I tell you this, look at other cars, especially the big 4x4 cars, their tint looked much darker than mine!"
Although Fahad said he would be more than happy to cobble together a similar device for his friends, he admitted he would not refuse a business opportunity.
"If a lot of people want it, why not start to sell it to them?" he asked. "But of course if my friends want me to make them some, I will not say no, I enjoy working on these things. I also encourage my friends to do the same in their free time."
A senior buyer at Plug-Ins said he thought the device would do well because it was made locally, while at the AAA Service Centre in Rashidiya in Dubai, a salesman who gave his name as Gordon said the device could appeal to parents wanting to check their children's cars.
"They would want to know if the tint is legal or not," he said. "They would probably buy it."